It’s a rainy morning in New Jersey, as summer, in it’s last gasps, took a stranglehold on the weather, bringing a blast of heat and humidity and with it the threat of intermittent thunderstorms. As I was gathering my thoughts for today’s News, Notes, and Reflections, my phone beeped with a text from my nephew. He asked if I had heard the Lions defensive adjustments to the Giants running game. I had not, but still having the game on my DVR , I forwarded to the Giants drives, and was astonished by what was revealed.
While difficult to make out consistently on the ESPN broadcast, with the Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico, and Lisa Salters speaking over the players much of the time, there are clear instances where you can hear the Lions defenders yelling out “Alpha” and “Baltimore” as the Giants then run the ball to the corresponding A and B gaps. The most obvious is at 11:15 in the third quarter, when the “Baltimore” can be clearly heard. The Giants run game, which was ineffective most of the game, may have been doomed from start, as the Lions knew what was coming. There was one play at 1:47 third quarter where the Lions call out the “Alpha” adjustment, Manning changes the play to a roll out pass, and both receivers miss the adjustment and continue block for the run play.
There are two possible explanations for this phenomenon. First, one or more of the Giants offensive linemen may have been tipping the plays. How linemen set up, the positioning of their feet, arms, or angle to the line of scrimmage often provide the defense with clues to the play that’s coming. Film study reveals many secrets in the NFL. The second is Ben McAdoo may have brought with him from Green Bay a play signalling system that is familiar to the Lions because they play the Packers twice each season and they were intercepting sideline relays or Eli Manning’s hand signals.
The Giants’ coaching staff will certainly pick this up in their film review and make the necessary adjustments before Sunday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals.
Odell Beckham (hamstring) was once again on the sideline when the Giants took the field to practice, but did appear to be running full speed and may be inching closer to rejoining his teammates. Steve Weatherford (ankle) joined him but hopes to resume kicking tomorrow. Placekicker Josh Brown practiced some punts in Weatherford’s absence and was passable, getting off some high kicks. Devon Kennard (hamstring), Markus Kuhn (ankle), James Brewer (back), and Jon Beason (foot) also did not practice. Beason missed practice due to soreness, after practicing yesterday on a limited basis. Cullen Jenkins (hip) and Charles Brown (shoulder) both returned to practice but were limited. Kuhn did some individual drills, and may be close to returning from a high ankle sprain suffered on August 22nd.
Geoff Schwartz was spotted in the weight room without his walking boot doing some strength work with free weights. Based on the performance of the offensive line on Monday night, his return from short term injured reserve can’t come soon enough.
For the Cardinals, running back Andre Ellington (foot), linebacker Alex Okeafor (thigh), and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (calf) did not practice. Guard Paul Fanaika (knee), safety Rashad Johnson (ankle), quarterback Carson Palmer (right shoulder), and punter Dave Zastudil (left groin) were limited.
Tom Coughlin spoke with the media after practice and said that it’s uncertain if Beason will practice tomorrow, but that trainers believe he will play on Sunday. He added that Kennard will definitely not be able to practice tomorrow and his status for the Cardinals game is uncertain. Coughlin said that defensive end Damontre Moore “should have played more and indicated that he will going forward. Asked why he didn’t get more playing time in the Lions game, Coughlin responded, “That’s a good question,” and referred the media to Perry Fewell for an explanation.
Weatherford addressed the media and said the swelling is down in his plant leg and he is able to move around much better. He has high praise for the training staff and feels “Amazing” considering the damage done to him on Monday night. Weatherford is “Optimistic” about his chances of playing against Arizona, but added “I’m always optimistic.” Although he doesn’t have to prove his toughness after playing through the pain on Monday night, Weatherford continued to impress, getting in a workout in the weight room despite his injury. He said won’t try to be a hero, and will only play if he thinks he can help the team win. Special teams coach Tom Quinn confirmed that Brown is the backup punter but expects that the team will look at free agent punters in case Weatherford is unable to go.
Jason Pierre-Paul said the team is not down despite the disappointing loss. He sent a text to Moore after the game to let him know that “Missed sacks happen” and not to dwell his against Matthew Stafford. Pierre-Paul is not suffering any lingering effects from his stinger, and said his neck feels fine. Pierre-Paul, when asked about the Lions gaining over 400 yards on the Giants defense, said that they were gifted 200 of the yards, “They didn’t earn those.”
Fewell agreed, saying if you took away the “Silly breakdowns and mistakes,” the team only allowed 167 yards. He notes the impact of the injuries to Pierre-Paul and Kennard, saying that you couldn’t feel Pierre-Paul’s energy after his injury and that losing Kennard “Knocked them of some packages.” Fewell called the defensive performance in the game, “A comedy of errors.” Asked about Beason’s soreness, Fewell responded that he is “Banking” on him playing.
Regarding Moore’s playing time, Fewell’s simple explanation is that the packages used didn’t require Moore to be on the field. The game dictates what packages are sent in, and that’s how the Detroit game went. On Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown’s collision that resulted in Calvin Johnson’s 67 yard touchdown, Fewell had no explanation.
McAdoo’s turn at the podium again pointed to a good practice as a reason for optimism. He made the same assertion last week and it didn’t translate onto the playing field. McAdoo pointed out that the offense is not repeating mistakes, rather they are making different mistakes each week and correcting them. He then referenced the 2007 Giants who fell to 0-2 against the Green Bay Packers, on which McAdoo was an assistant coach, then turned it around and beat them in the NFC Championship Game.
Defending Manning, McAdoo points to progress in his footwork and his intelligent. He believes the West Coast offense is a perfect fit for Manning’s skill set. If McAdoo had said anything else, it would have been the biggest upset since Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson.
He praised Larry Donnell, and specifically mentioned his blocking but cautioned that there is room fir improvement. Turning his focus to the Cardinals impressive cornerback duo of Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie, McAdoo said they not dictate his play calling and he will not “Shy away” from them.
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